ATASCADERO - On the 100th anniversary of the guns falling silent on the first World War, Atascadero recognized its veterans and marshal ties.
On Nov. 11, 2018, at 11 a.m. the Atascadero Veterans Memorial hosted a tribute to those who have served and those who have fallen, with San Luis Obispo County’s District Attorney Dan Dow as the guest speaker in his role as Lt. Col. stationed out of Camp Roberts.
Master of Ceremonies Dick Mason explained that Lt. Col. Dow is a reserve officer twice deployed to war serving with American armed forces sent into Kosovo and Iraq.
But it was not of his own service that he wished to speak. Representing Camp Roberts, now run by the California Army National Guard, he told the tale of how Cpl. Harold W. Roberts earned a posthumous Medal of Honor in World War I and later became the only enlisted man to have a post named for him. The story of Cpl. Roberts self-sacrifice, throwing another man to safety as their vehicle submerged in a tank trap, was told from the point of view of the survivors.
And it was fitting tribute through World War II as the Central Coast served as a training area for both mechanized and amphibious operations.
While no veterans of the Great War remain, many in attendance this year carry similar memories of comrades lost from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and even during the relative peacetime of the Cold War.
Dow’s remarks were part of an hour-long ceremony hosted by the Veterans Memorial Foundation also including a fly-over from the Paso Roble-based Estrella Warbirds Museum, a Presentation of Colors by cadets from the Grizzly Academy, National Anthem by Malon Varin and invocation by Pastor Rick Comstock. A Quilts of Valor presentation saw 20 local vets receive hand-stitched quilts from the Gold Coast Quilt of Valor Quilters as well as a wreath laying at the memorial by four veterans of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division.
San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong played Taps with his son Derek to conclude the event. He and his family are Atascadero residents. Although his role in elected office was not noted on the program, his presence could be seen as symbolic coming on the heels of the Nov. 6 election. Dow cited the freedom of representative democracy as one of the reasons veterans continue to fight and quoted from the final social media posts of Brent Taylor, Mayor of North Ogden, Utah and a major in the Utah National Guard. Shortly before his death during his fourth deployment Maj. Taylor wrote about how proud he was to be guarding voters for the Afghan parliamentary election.
Dow also emphasized the role played by 50 million service members in the nation’s history and thanked the country’s allies, represented by a contingent of British Army artillery specialists visiting the ceremony in a break from annual training at Camp Roberts.
Other music and a community barbecue hosted by Kiwanis followed the ceremony.